April 28, 2017 • By Dennis Beaver
Over 9 million people in the United States own a timeshare. At some point in time, most will regret ever hearing the word, Timeshare.
“Hopefully, right after signing the contract–or years later–most will realize this was the worst financial mistake of their lives,” Scott Morse will tell you. He is Director of Operations at Rockford, Illinois-based Resort Release, rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and dedicated to helping owners “become free from the never-ending expense that timeshare ownership means.”
A bottomless pit into which you pour money
Timeshares are presented as a great investment, something that will increase in value, a way to beat ever increasing hotel rates, will yield family fun, and can be left to your heirs. However, reality is something else, as Morse explains:
“One of the many lies is that these are investments and can be sold for more than what you paid for it. This is complete nonsense as they are never a financial investment. They are a bottomless pit into which you pour money forever and most have no resale value.
“Owners are willing to give them away in order to stop paying yearly maintenance fees,” he points out, adding, “Just search ‘Buy My Time Share for One Dollar.”
We did and he’s right.
“However for certain families a timeshare can become an investment in memories, its value found in ‘locking’ a family with young children into taking a vacation, and the reasoning goes along these lines: ‘We paid $15,000 for it, are hit with $2500 yearly maintenance and tax expenses, so we have to use it!’
We asked Morse, “But what happens when the kids are off to college and they no longer take a vacation as a family?”
His answer is one of the key reasons that timeshares become a horrible waste of money:
“We have clients who have not used their timeshare for years, yet the maintenance fees–which can run thousands of dollars a year–continue.”
Victimized by crooked salespeople and high pressure tactics
In the past month, You and the Law was contacted by two couples who went through frightening, similar experiences–held against their will, victims of duress–with the same Las Vegas timeshare developer.
One in in their mid-70’s, Russ, a Vietnam vet who flew F-4 Phantoms and his wife, Daisy, diagnosed with dementia and by taking one look at her it was obvious. We suspect that Russ is also somewhat impaired.
Checking into their timeshare hotel, and asking if there was a way to lower the $2500 yearly maintenance fee, they were directed to speak with Alex, a sales representative. It was the beginning of a nightmare, held captive for over 4 hours, yelled at, not even allowed to use the bathroom until they had purchased a new timeshare for over $10,000, including “closing costs” of $2800 put on a credit card, “Which I kept telling them we did not want!” Russ told us tearfully.
We left voicemails for the developer’s media contact person and their General Counsel, never receiving a call back, but the next day an email was sent to our reader. “We are cancelling the contract and refunding your payments,” it stated.
The other couple was a 4th grade teacher and his hairstylist wife. Same story. Same property. 4 hours. In tears and not free until they purchased $15,000 worth of “points” and “closing costs” of $3400. We got their contract cancelled as well, but no refund of the $3400. They were happy just to be free of the timeshare.
We can’t tell you who the bad guys are as a Non-Disclosure agreement was required.
“In many cases, people have been kept in a room for over 10 hours, not given water, not eaten, they are exhausted and sign contracts just to get out of there. At least once a month someone come to us who owes over $150,000 in timeshare debt. We have met people who owe more than what their house is worth, it is so scary,” he underscores.
Who becomes a victim?
Is it just the impaired elderly, or nice people who can’t say no who get sucked into signing a contract? Is there an ideal victim of a timeshare sales presentation?
“Salespeople and their managers are equal opportunity, high-pressure sharks,” Morse strongly maintains.
“We have spoken to people at every level of education, from all walks of life who have fallen victim to timeshare presentations, including lawyers, doctors, journalists, and television talk show hosts.”
So, how can you prevent becoming a victim? Next time, Morse will outline for us the steps to take before signing the contract, and what do when you wake up and realize, “I’m in trouble!”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.